Nick: We were most directly inspired by our experiences playing Dungeons & Dragons. We only started playing about a decade ago, but we were instantly obsessed with it, going so far as to write elaborate back-stories and detailed recaps of each session from our respective characters’ viewpoints. Our first campaign went on for years, and when we later decided to write a book together, we found ourselves using elements of that campaign and those characters as a springboard.
Zack: TAG is set in a world that’s akin to those games we played together, except in this story we imagined that our characters ultimately failed. Generations ago, a band of friends and adventurers failed to prevent one of their own from summoning hordes of monsters to their realm. Our two young protagonists are the inheritors of that mistake–a world fallen to monsters.
Which do you prefer: editing or writing and being edited?
Zack: It depends on the day, and the project. When the writing is really working–when I’m excited about what I’m doing–there’s no other feeling like it. But that’s definitely not the experience every time. Editing, likewise, can be wonderful; helping authors to hone their stories is a privileged career.
But my favorite activity is napping. Preferably with my dog.
Nick: Napping is an important part of the process! My dirty secret is that I never really enjoy writing. The joy, for me, is in rewriting. Revising. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my first drafts are a super messy, slightly mortifying but necessary part of the process. I need to have that mess that I can reshape.
But I nap alone!
If you had to switch places with one of your characters, which would it be and why?
Nick: Honestly, I would want to be Liza. She’s a character who surprised me–I didn’t really know who she was until we started writing her. She ended up being deeply moral, confident . . . not fearless, but capable of facing the things she’s afraid of. And she’s not wasting time pretending to be less awesome than she is just to spare anyone’s feelings. I think Liza might end up ruling the whole realm one day. (Assuming she survives the horrors we have in store for our cast.)
Zack: Nick took my answer so I guess I’m going to be boring and say Zed, my viewpoint character. I just love magic so much. My favorite stories all include an element of mysticism. I keep waiting for the day my own powers will manifest, but in the meantime I get to write Zed, who has a natural knack for the stuff. I could do without the aforementioned horrors, though.
Most writers suffer from writer’s block at times. Do you?
Zack: Oh, for sure. Writer’s block, crises of confidence, plotting myself into a corner. Check, check, check. I’ll tell you what, though, having a writing partner to talk these things through when they happen has been pretty great. Sometimes just a quick chat with Nick is all I need to untangle a knot.
Nick: Knowing that Zack is impatiently awaiting my next chapter usually does the trick for me. That’s my cure for writer’s block: Fear of my writing partner and those mystical powers he’s always trying to manifest.
Zack: Ha! There’s a crude little doll with your name on it that’s just waiting for my magic to arrive. I’ll force it to sit at a tiny laptop.
What one place in the real world would you personally like to go for an adventure? Why?
Nick: It’s not a specific place, exactly, but I’d love to spend some time on a boat in the open ocean. I’m afraid of the water, but also love it, and so many of my favorite books have scenes on a ship. I’ve traveled a fair amount, but spending time on a boat would feel unlike anything else. And it would carry with it that little thrill of danger, the sense of being up against the elements.
Zack: I’d love to get out there and visit some of the spectacular ruins of the world: Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, or the ruins of Delphi. There’s something about seeing a once great structure slowly reclaimed by nature–it’s beautiful and bewildering, and also a little melancholy. I think that’s in spirit with our book.
If you couldn’t write for some reason, what else would you do to be creative?
Zack: Is napping creative? Well, I went to a performing arts high school and so was blessed with a range of creative opportunities as a teen. I shot and edited videos in the film program, sang in musicals, and directed the theater kids. If writing suddenly disappeared from my life, I’d probably try and take up one of those. My favorite creative endeavors usually involve a narrative, though. I’m a storyteller at heart.
Nick: I’ve got two little nephews who are obsessed with monsters and we’ve been making cheesy home movies lately. We’ve got a Wolfboy one and a Frankenstein one, and plans for the Mummy. These movies are… not very good, but they’re fun to do. I can imagine teaching kids how to make their own short films would be pretty fun.
My nephews and I sometimes clash creatively, though. I’m always pushing for more subtle psychological horror, but they just want to include more fight scenes. But that’s five year olds for you, right? I’m glad my writing partner is marginally more sophisticated…
What advice do you have for your readers that might want to follow in your footsteps?
Nick: That’s an easy one: Bring a friend! Writing is a pretty solitary activity and can be isolating. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Zack: It might not be for everybody, but cooperative storytelling can also have incredibly surprising and exciting results, especially if you’re working with a kindred nerd.
Nick: It’s possible to geek out alone, but it’s never going to be as fun.
The clever, action-packed launch of a thrilling new series
“Full of suspense and twists and turns, with characters I’ll never forget.” –James Dashner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Maze Runner series
“A dazzling adventure sure to become a classic, if not a movie.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Fablehaven meets Artemis Fowl in THE ADVENTURER’S GUILD (Disney-Hyperion; On Sale October 3, 2017) by debut authors Zach Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos. The launch of this epic new series follows best friends Zed Kagai and Brock Dunderfel who get conscripted into the dangerous Adventurers Guild, and must defend what’s left of humanity against terrible monsters in this riveting, funny, and suspenseful fantasy.
In one of the last cities standing after the world fell to monsters, inseparable Zed and Brock have high hopes for the future. Zed desperately wishes to join the ranks of the Mages Guild, where his status as Freestone’s only half elf might finally be an asset. Brock, the roguishly handsome son of merchants, is confident he’ll be welcomed into the ranks of the Merchants Guild. But just as it seems the boys’ dreams have come true, their lives take a startling turn… and they find themselves members of the perilous Adventurers Guild.
Led by the fearsome Alabasel Frond, the guild acts as the last line of defense against the Dangers–hungry, unnatural beasts from otherworldly planes. And when the boys uncover a conspiracy that threatens all of Freestone, Zed, Brock, and their new allies–Liza, a fierce noble, and Jett, a brave dwarf–must prove their worth once and for all. The initiates are a ragtag gang of misfits that must to trust each other and themselves if they hope to survive.
With devastating sacrifices and close friendships hanging in the balance, THE ADVENTURER’S GUILD is sure to be a hit with readers who like their fantasy clever and fast-paced, with tons of humor and heart.
ZACK LORAN CLARK and NICK ELIOPULOS grew up in Florida and now live in New York. Best friends, they get together to play Dungeons & Dragons every week. Zack fervently hopes that magic is real; Nick desperately hopes that monsters are not. The Adventurers Guild is their first novel. Visit them on twitter at @zackloranclark and @NickEliopulos.
THE ADVENTURERS GUILD
by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos | Disney-Hyperion | On Sale October 3, 2017
Hardcover ISBN: 9781484788011 | $16.99 US | $17.99 Can. | 320 pages | Ages 8-12 |
Ebook ISBN: 9781484798546